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Wilderness Holdings

A key driver of the travel industry at the moment is that punters face a diminishing choice of destinations where they feel they will have a sporting chance of returning home in one piece.

Former crowd pleasers such as Egypt and Tunisia have been hammered by the perception of terrorist risk; the Zika virus has crossed South America off many a list; and the end of the Ebola outbreak has made Southern and Eastern Africa look like a possibility to even the most geographically challenged of tourists.

This is excellent news for Wilderness, which has beefed up its regional presence with the acquisition of 51% of the Governors’ Camp group of lodges in Kenya and Rwanda. It is developing a luxury lodge in Rwanda for those discerning gorilla-fanciers who may previously have been put off by lodges that could have been cobbled together in about 1950 by a rather unambitious parks board.

Gorillas are au courant after the antics of one Kumbuka, formerly incarcerated at London Zoo, who celebrated his escape by necking 5l of undiluted blackcurrant squash before being darted and returned to barracks.

Wilderness’s Bisate Lodge project involved the largest-ever private land acquisition next to the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. In addition to the lodge, the company is undertaking a reforestation and rewilding project that should have a major effect on what has been a threatened landscape.

Many a corporate spouts great plumes of guff about its commitment to the environment, but for Wilderness this really is at the heart of its business, and long may it thrive.

Allied Technologies


Of the many charms of the ancient Bohemian capital of Prague, perhaps the most idiosyncratic is its long association with defenestration as a quick and effective solution to a political or religious dispute. This involved a squad of the stout burghers of the day grabbing an uppity ruler and lobbing him out of a suitable lofty window, a solution that made up in efficacy what it may have lacked in legal process.

It is tempting to let the imagination roam in the direction of a short list for a lengthy drop . But if we were ever to consider adopting such a robust approach to our political woes, we should look to Altron, whose experience suggests that even a mild attempt at "deventerstration" can be tricky to achieve.

While the company has reiterated its commitment to transition from a family-managed business to an independent management structure, the Venters remain at the helm to drive the process of exiting various disaster areas, reducing the cost base and debt burden, and repositioning the company for a brighter future.

The good news is that Altron’s core IT and telecoms businesses are showing signs of life, with profit before tax doubling despite challenging economic conditions. The process of offloading Altech Autopage and Aberdare Cables, as well as other noncore businesses (which are expected to contribute R340m once the transactions are concluded) has begun, and the loss from discontinued operations has reduced from R721m to R224m.

It’s going to be a long, hard slog to get the company back to its former glories, but at least it’s made a start.